Hey guys! It’s Hardcore Justice time! A day where justice is meted out fairly and without partiality, but with kendo sticks or something. Kind of like if Jack McCoy was super into steel cages, but also nothing like that. A few things:
-This week on The Mandible Claw Podcast, Brandon and I talk Wrestling Is Awesome, ACW, and the things that make us the happiest. I love this podcast for so many reasons. Go listen!
-Don’t forget to like and share and comment and all of the things that make this column happen. I like writing it, hopefully you like reading it.
-Follow me on Twitter here, With Leather here, and UPROXX here. Twitter friends or friends for life, or so I’ve been led to believe by Big Social Media.
This week on Impact: Ladders! Tables! Weaponized bras! Sh*t gets real. Let’s get to it!
Best: That’s it! BACK TO WINNIPEG!
Austin Aries is a wrestler and sick of ladder matches. Jeff Hardy is a wrestler you love because of his ladder matches. They get in each other’s faces in a way that surely set slashfic writers all atwitter to rush to their keyboards about steamy arguments and wrestle kisses or whatever, but this is woooonderful. It’s so short and it’s so dumb but hey, if everyone’s gonna be yelling at each other, at least make it enjoyable. Had this happened on last week’s show it would have been the best thing by a mile, but this week? Oh man. There’s some good stuff this week. Kinda nice, huh?
If there’s one holdover from the dangerous type stuff that there isn’t really a place for in wrestling anymore that I absolutely mark for, it’s tables. But man, do I ever love me some ladder matches. If I were hardpressed to name my favourite WWE matches, three of them are TLC matches. Every part of my being wants to be like hey, that’s dangerous, please don’t do stuff that will hurt you, but at the same time it is screaming YES MORE LADDER MATCHES BRING THEM TO ME and then laughing like Doctor Claw. One on one gets a little stale in TNA, so the last few ladder matches haven’t held the same excitement. But a line-up like this? Doctor Claw laughter for days.
Best: Either this guy has discovered the joys of sweatpants in public…
Or Joseph Park cosplay has entered the realm of “acceptable boy wrestling show cosplay.” And it is the best. Bray Wyatt opened up a whole new level of cosplay with his Satan Does Tommy Bahama Chic look. AJ Lee has her own t-shirt and wears things that aren’t just glorified bikinis, so that’s a thing people are doing now. Jeff Hardy and his pantyhose arms is a stalwart choice, but what of us who don’t feel like wearing more make-up than a Total Diva at the gym? For a bunch of jacked up dudes who wear spandex and nothing most of the time, they don’t leave a lot to emulate. If I showed up somewhere in RKO trunks and a pair of boots I am 100% sure I would be arrested. Joe Park’s outfit is simple, it’s comfortable, and you’re not that guy in full-on Macho Man gear trying as hard as possible to get yourself over. You know the one I mean. Joseph Park: cosplay choice of a generation. The future is comfy!
Best: Did I mention ladders?
I’m gonna give a solid worst to TNA for not putting this match up in its entirety, or at least more than three minutes of it. This is the best show since January (January!) and it’s barely enough to cover everything I enjoyed about this match. If you want to go out of your way to watch it on Spike TV’s website, oh man. Do it. You will not be disappointed.
From the get go, this has everything going for it. Four guys who know how to be fast, one guy who knows his way around a ladder better than anyone, sadness-enhanced AJ Styles, and the sense of humour of Kazarian to counteract the fact that I still hate when AJ Styles wrestles like he’s in a videogame. The pace keeps up through the whole thing, and while there are predictable ladder spots, just like any ladder match, it’s not actually the focal point. Anything outside of the ring or not directly involving the ladder would absolutely stand on its own. Aries powerbombing Jeff Hardy off of the ladder. AJ Styles setting up for the Styles Clash on Aries, only to be DDT-ed mid-setup by Kazarian. AJ Styles jumping from the ropes to the ladder. Jeff Hardy not being slow as molasses and actually looking the Jeff Hardy that makes people want to slap some green sh*t on their face and cheer for him. This is great stuff. I can nitpick and try to pick out little things, but I don’t want to. This match has me yelling and jumping out of my seat, and what on earth is better than having good wrestling that makes you get completely and utterly wrapped up in everything happening on screen?
The answer is nothing, because that is the best thing.
Accepting sub-par wrestling because it happens to be better than the worst stuff we can get is what TNA has beaten into us, but this is the perfect reminder of exactly what I mean when I say no, this isn’t enough, I know you can do better, just do it.
Best: Winner via friendship and appletinis
Oh man, if you’re gonna cheat, this is the way to do it. Christopher Daniels and Bobby Roode show up, and in tandem work to distract Bald Ref, who is just as great in this match as any of the wrestlers. His reaction to turning around to see Bobby Roode in the ring? Oh, Bald Ref. You are my favourite. This helps Daniels sneak the appletini to Kazarian, who then splashes it in Jeff Hardy’s face, knocks him off of the ladder, and reaches up to grab the clipboard and snag the win. FRIENDS TO THE END!
Worst: Dixie Carter
Look. I’m not gonna throw shade at a wrestler with real life problems doing what it takes to get real life help. But at this point, is there anyone who buys Dixie Carter as a portrait of sympathy? If you want to address Kurt Angle’s issues, fine. But everytime she shows up with her dead eyes and cool mom outfit, no matter what she’s says, she comes off as completely disingenuous.
Here’s an idea: instead of having Dixie play the role of concerned lady who runs a company that cares about their wrestlers, why not play into it? This is someone who reads your tweets from a private jet while wrestlers sometimes have to take second jobs to make ends meet. Work that. Remember Mrs. Carlson from WKRP? That’s who Dixie should be at this point. Have her swan into the place in a full mink, dripping with jewels, ready to crack down on sheningans. Hulk Hogan has proven that he can express moments of humour and vulnerability. He’s the perfect Big Guy; someone who loves the company, desperately wants to be a part of things, and only has its best interests at heart. You can have that great dynamic without all the heart to heart talks in Mr. Carlson’s office about his dead dad. Mr. Anderson is smarmy enough and, when he chooses to be, actually funny enough to be the slimy Herb Tarlick to Hogan’s Carlson. Joseph Park is obviously a great Les Nessman. No one is cool enough to be Dr. Johnny Fever, but that pretty much goes for anyone, not just TNA. And where the hell is the kickstarter to pay for the music licensing so I can have my goddamn WKRP DVD collection the way it was meant to be watched?
Why do you hate Magnus so much, Danielle? I just don’t get don’t get it!!! This is worse than Brandon hating Kofi Kingston for no reason!!
Sigh. Here’s the thing that I keep saying, but I’ll say it again: Magnus. Is. Boring. His wrestling is middling at best. This is a guy who’s gone through how many finishers, and still manages to make each one look like hot garbage? He’s the guy at the mall kiosk trying to sell you deep sea mineral face cream by telling you you’re already beautiful with a great big cheesy smile. But if you’re already beautiful, why the f*ck do you need a bunch of green goop that smells kinda weird and doesn’t really do anything? The one persona he tried on that actually fit was in Ring Ka King, and none of that works outside of a former British Colony. So he keeps trying different things. Maybe this elbow drop will work. Maybe if I’m a real nice guy it’ll work. Maybe if I fold up your legs and look like I’m trying to move my bowels with the force of a tectonic plate shift it’ll work. Maybe if I spray on some stubble and put on sunglasses and make convoluted hand gestures it’ll work.
It doesn’t. None of it works. And it’s so incredibly frustrating to watch that it all adds up to a gigantic waste of time. Go back and watch that ladder match. Then watch Magnus wrestle Mr. Anderson last week. If you’re still okay with him, then there’s a fundamental difference in opinion that is never going to be overcome. If you don’t ever want things to be better, keep having dry toast with tapwater. The rest of us are going out for pizza and Shirley Temples.
Best: ‘Sup ladies
Oh look, another fantastic match. Yes please.
ODB is hot right out of the gate. She’s pissed off, and you know what? I dig it. I’ve written before about how Gail Kim and Mickie James have a history of incredibly awkward matches, so putting ODB between them to keep the match up is a great idea. Remember when Knockouts matches used to be great, and rival (if not show up) the men’s? Yeah. I do. It was last night.
My absolute favourite part of the match happened when ODB, overcome by her need to do some damage, unhooked one of her bras, yanked it out (well, mostly, those hooks are brutal when they get caught in other stuff), and used it to choke out Mickie James. It’s clever, and it looks super cool. If that weren’t enough, she then uses it to hang Gail Kim through the ropes. Ugh. So good. ODB can slap her chest all she wants if she’s gonna follow it up with moves like that. These ladies are going full force, and putting everything they can into utterly destroying each other and I love every single minute. While you’re looking for that ladder match in full, seek this one out too.
Dueling stables aside, see what happens when you put good wrestling on the wrestling show? It’s the best thing.
Worst: Where the eff is the video of this, TNA?
Where the eff is the video of this, TNA? ETA: They smartened up. It’s here.
Worst? Maybe?: “I love you too, Brooke.”
Bully Ray tells Brooke over the phone that next week, they’re gonna tell the world the truth? Are you? Are you really? Are you sure you know what’s going one? Did you fool Tito Ortiz into thinking Bully Ray has a tiny penis for the greater good? I swear, if this isn’t the best goddamn payoff in the history of payoffs I am going to keep watching this show every week. Sigh.
Best: Samoa Joe
Remember that episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun where Harry didn’t understand tipping, so he just put a bunch of money on the end of the table and would add or subtract from it based on the level of service he felt he was receiving? That is how I’m approaching Samoa Joe from now on. There’s $10.00 on the table. I took away $1.00 for believing that Magnus doesn’t know Austin Aries despite working together for years, but I’m gonna give it back for your hilarious attempt to hold back the Bellator Twins. Look at that smile! He can’t take this seriously either. You remain at $10.00, Samoa Joe. Let’s keep it that way.
Worst: Impact Production
I’m rather curious how I’m supposed to judge, or even simply watch and enjoy, everything that’s going on in this match if I can’t see what’s going on? At one point, Anderson are playing into one of the bajillion nearfalls that happen during a tables match, and we can hear Joe doing something to Bobby Roode with the ring bell, but at no point do they cut over to it. Magnus and Anderson pause to look over, so…we just don’t get to see it? And it happens a few more times. Samoa Joe is still at $10.00, maybe even $10.50 for that brutal looking chop to Roode’s chest that made my tummy tingle with joy, but he’s always just slightly off camera. This is pre-recorded. You have the capability to edit footage. Why aren’t you doing it?
TNA does stuff like this a lot. Their replays are always from the worst angle possible so that you can see just how ineffective the move actually is. It happened numerous times during the Gail Kim-Taryn Terrell ladder match. It happens numerous times every single show. In the off chance these wrestlers are at least trying to make things look good, why are you cutting them off at the pass?
Worst: Anderson and Magnus
If Samoa Joe has exceeded his tip limit, Magnus and Anderson are currently rivaling the national debt. But hey, how can you even tell? There’s no video of this either. Jeez.
Best: Winner via appletini
FRIENDS TO THE END. AND BOBBY ROODE!
Best: No Surrender
Fact: With everything that has transpired during this pay per view, I am 100% excited for the Captain America free per view.
Remember that episode of The Ultimate Spider-Man where Spidey lost Captain America’s shield? That has nothing to do with any of this. It was just a baller episode that I’ve seen a bunch of times, but have no one outside of a four year old to talk to about it with.
Best: Big Fight Feel
Coming into this show, I was entirely unenthused for the main event, just like I’m usually unenthused for the main event. As the show progressed, and I got more and more into it through good match after good match, I got more and more excited. I’ve even got someone I want to root for. I don’t much care for what Bully Ray has been saying and doing, but it’s gotta be better than Tommy Frigo carrying the belt, right? And guess what? I didn’t hate it!
Bully Ray whipped out a bear hug, and it seems like the most ridiculous move that usually conflates big lumbering goons and their lack of mobility, but I pop every time. I mostly like it because it just looks like aggressive cuddling, and wrestlers hugging is shoot happiness, but it’s also a move that, when you consider what it’s actually meant to accomplish, can seem more effective than most others. As Gordon Solie explains it, the bear hug forces the air out of the lungs, and if you force the air out of the lungs you don’t get the right supply of oxygen into the bloodstream. This builds up lactic acid. That lactic acid doesn’t burn off, and if it doesn’t burn off heavy fatigue sets in. See? From aggressive cuddling to debilitating maneuver. Love it.
Best: Friends to the end!
I love that Taz is the one to hand Bully Ray the belt because a) it gives Taz a purpose other than opening limo doors and trying to figure out the correct pronunciation of kielbasa, and b) ECW FRIENDS! E-C-HUGS! E-C-HUGS! E-C-HUGS!
Friendship-based wrestling always wins.
Now, this seems like a lot of Bests, which is appropriate for a show that I mostly enjoyed all the way through. There is a conspicuous absence of any mention of two certain gentlemen on the program, which truthfully explains a clear lack of worsts. This week I asked writer, MMA Fan, all around super cool lady bro, and crustacean extraordinaire Jessica/LobsterMobster/Mobsy to handle all of the bits in between so we could all enjoy her extended commentary, and I didn’t have to pitch my laptop from the balcony. Is MMA better down where it’s wetter? I’ll let our undersea correspondent take it from here.
Best and Worst of Bellator MMA
Best: Rampage finally has a suit!
Worst: Rampage finally has a suit and it is CAMOFLAUGE
I am certainly glad that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson decided to show some group solidarity and bought a suit. Of course, ‘a suit’ is a pretty vague description, and instead of keeping things sartorially conservative, Quinton decides to go full-Rampage with something from the Mossy Oak ‘elegant yokel’ line. Honestly, my biggest issue isn’t so much that Quinton sticks out like a terrible idiot at his ROLL TIDE wedding, but that in a glaring faux pas, Yoshihiro Akiyama wore it better. Don’t swagger-jack, Rampage, and especially don’t swagger-jack Sexyama.
(Also, I want to pretend that the camo suit is TNA’s attempt at a John Cena-esque situation where Rampage is concealed, thus obscuring him from your vision. I’m pretty dumb that way)
Best: Tito said his words mostly correct
As a long-suffering “listen to Tito Ortiz attempt to communicate using spoken language” person, I was pleasantly surprised that he managed to say his small handful of words without garbling everything horribly. With that minor compliment out of the way, allow me to move on to the crux of this moment.
Worst: Quick! Everyone say something stupid!
Ugh. Okay, so because Kurt Angle is in terrible need of substance abuse help, the Main Event Mafia is a man down for the five-on-five match against Aces and Eights. Thankfully, Quinton’s got a man that just might be of help, but he’s got to take it to the ring (Along with Samoa Joe in his best Anderson Silva-inspired black and yellow shorts) because that is the only valid form of communication in the world of professional wrestling.
First, though, we get to hear Quinton talk about how much he loves wrestling, and how all his MMA fans should stop saying he sold out because he joined TNA. The problem is, I don’t think he’s got any MMA fans that know what Impact is. Honestly, for a second, I thought Rampage had gotten his scripts confused and was trying to film another ‘save Olympic wrestling’ commercial. With his reminder that he got in trouble during his high school amateur wrestling days for powerbombing opponents, Rampage is ready to call out the man he was cryptically hinting at.
Of course, Tito Ortiz is the man Jackson wants. After all, they’ve got history together. They spent many fight camps up in Big Bear, California, preparing each other to fight top competition (Until Rampage’s boxing coach stole a bunch of his money and Jackson fled to England). And in just a few months, they’re going to finally get inside a cage and attempt to punch and elbow each other in the face and general head area. But let’s just put all of that aside, sweep it under the rug for now, since their MMA fight is something completely different.
This is about those jerk stores, the Aces and Eights and how much they stink! They need to be gotten rid of, and once again, of course Tito Ortiz is just the man for that job (Let’s ignore the fact that Tito hasn’t won a fight since 2011. Or that he’s 1-7-1 since 2006).
(Brief aside: I was trying to refresh myself on what went down in this segment because I was staring at the face painted kid in the front row most of the night, but TNA’s video of this didn’t have sound, so I’m winging the heck outta what was said)
Thankfully, Bully Ray shows up to make things slightly less terrible. Except he threatens to make Tito his “Huntington Beach Bitch” which leads nicely to this next bit of business (STOP CALLING PEOPLE BITCHES, YOU DUMB GALOOT, IT’S TOUGH FOR ME TO LIKE YOU WHEN YOU DO THAT)
Best/Worst: Tito Ortiz is Scrappy-Doo
AWW, LEMME AT ‘IM! I’LL MURDERLIZE ‘IM, I’LL MASSACRATE HIM, AWW, GIMME A CHANCE!
Worst: Lookit these two run
Rampage’s excuse is that cardio is for dumb babies, and Tito’s excuse (Only to be discovered afterwards) is that all of his bones have been shattered for the last three weeks.
I will never not love any use of Aces and Eights’ awesome hammer. It’s second only to the Estonian Thunderfrog’s Hammer of Peace on my list of favorite wrestling hammers (The hammerlock is third, Van Hammer and Scott Putski are tied and Triple H’s sledgehammer is not on the list).
That being said, all this needed beforehand was Sting to be won over by Tito’s eloquence, flash him a wink, smile and thumbs up and boldly announce how much he trusts Ortiz to really drive home where Tito’s loyalties really lay.
Best: Celebrate good times, come on!
I’m chalking this up to Tito’s winless streak. He hasn’t had anything to be happy about in a while so celebrations are confusing to him. At least he’s enthusiastic, if uncoordinated about things! (Also, I guess he wasn’t up for his standard gravedigger routine?)
Sometimes you just gotta lay face-down on some concrete after a rough day of engaging in your new profession very poorly. (Alternate, mean-spirited joke: Who photoshopped out his monster truck and the cops?)